What GHSA’s guidelines for return of sports look like

ajc.com

Georgia High School Association executive director Robin Hines will meet with his board of trustees Thursday afternoon to discuss his tentative plan to re-open sports activities as early as June 1.

The board meeting, to be conducted electronically, is scheduled for 3 p.m. and will be live-streamed by the NFHS Network.

An announcement to lift the GHSA's sports ban could come as early as Friday afternoon, Hines told Score Atlanta president I.J. Rosenberg in a podcast produced Wednesday. Getting the 12-member board's endorsement is among the final steps in the process, Hines said.

“Any part of the guidance that we provide [to member schools], I certainly want to have a robust discussion with our board of trustees to see if there’s anything they need to change or tweak,” Hines said.

Hines suspended sports activities in March over COVID-19 concerns.  He made the shutdown permanent in April.

On Thursday, Hines is expected to discuss guidelines primarily for summer conditioning, which is voluntary to schools and student-athletes. Those workouts can be had in all sports, not just football.

Hines is not expected to address the start of fall practices, which are scheduled for July 27 in football and Aug. 1 in volleyball, softball, cross country and cheerleading. Those dates, if they hold, would be the first times that sports teams are allowed to have mandatory practices.

“We’ve got a long ways to go,” Hines said. “We’re about three months from our first games. As I’ve always said, I’m prayerful, and I’m hopeful, that we’ll be able to have a regular season, but none of that is guaranteed or promised to us right now.”

Hines has emphasized that any return to sports will be slow and measured, meaning initially no scrimmages or other workouts that entail close contact.

“We’re not going to one day say, ‘June 1, all right, coaches, have at it,’ and let them bring in 100 kids in one large group,” Hines told AJC.com last week. “We want to provide guidelines. It’s going to be more restrictive.’’

If Georgia moves toward resuming high school sports, it would not be the first state to do so.

On Wednesday, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds announced that practices could begin June 1 for baseball and softball, which are summer sports in that state. Their games can begin June 15. Indiana on May 8 was the first state to announce it was re-opening sports, albeit not until July 1.

South Carolina sports teams can begin workouts June 1, according to MaxPreps, which reported a state-by-state update Wednesday. Arkansas is moving toward a June 1 start, though it's unofficial, MaxPreps said. Alabama and Louisiana appear to be aiming for a June 8 start. Other Southern states remain more uncertain.

“We’re ready to move forward,” Hines said in Wednesday’s podcast. “I know that our coaches are. I know that our players are. I get emails every day from parents who are ready to see this happen, and I’m ready, too, but we’ve got to do it the right way.”

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